Wedding season is in full bloom. You’re newly-engaged and trying your best to navigate the sea of wedding vendors.
But beware: from wedding ring scams to wedding photography scams, there is fraudulent activity in every major wedding-related service.
To ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch, here are six tips for avoiding wedding scams this season.
1. Verify Everything
In the digital world, it’s really easy to market false information. That’s why it’s so important to verify everything that you read, especially when it comes to wedding planning.
- Don’t settle for the word of a bubbly representative or the information on an appealing website.
- Check out a vendor’s social media sites and see what real people have to say.
- Read as many reviews as you can on as many different platforms as you can find them.
- Talk to people or other wedding professionals in the industry to see what they’ve heard.
- Ask a lot of questions, and don’t be afraid to ask for samples of their work.
- Be wary of companies no one’s heard of and companies that don’t have a website or samples of their work.
Avoid working with a company if you can’t verify their legitimacy or the quality of their work, no matter how perfect they seem. It’s always best to research every business you work with.
2. Too Good to Be True Probably Is
The wedding industry survives on discounts. It’s easy to negotiate discounts with your vendors and many of them will offer discounts on their own. However, if a photographer is offering you a rate that’s thousands below the average asking price in your area or a designer dress is selling for a fraction of the cost online, there’s probably a reason for it.
With tons of ideas out there for wedding planning on a budget, you don’t need to sacrifice quality for cost.
Not every cheap dress is part of a wedding dress scam and not every amateur photographer is bad, but always ensure you’re paying a discounted rate for a solid product rather than an average rate for a cheap one.
3. Get it in Writing
All legitimate vendors use contracts, so be wary of anyone who doesn’t want to put their terms in writing. Even with legitimate vendors, make sure you read the fine print. If you sign a contract you didn’t bother to read and end up with a bill that’s double what you were promised due to hidden fees, there’s not a lot you can do.
Not every scam is obvious. If a venue promises you a whole day for a set price but your contract states that there’s a fee for every hour over three, ask for an amendment. If a photographer offers you extra prints at no charge or a discounted rate but doesn’t want to write it down, be wary.
You can’t prove a promise, so ensure it’s a written agreement instead.
4. Be Smart About Payments
It isn’t uncommon to hear stories of wedding planners running off with a couples money days before the wedding. Know where your money is going. If a wedding planner is responsible for paying your vendors, ask to be provided with the vendor’s receipts of payment so that you know they’re actually getting paid.
- Use your credit card, if possible, when paying vendors to allow for the safety of chargebacks in the event someone bails.
- Always get a receipt and updated contracts for every payment to ensure you can prove when and what you paid.
Most vendors will ask for a certain amount of money up front for their services, but no legitimate company will ask you for large amounts of cash or fail to provide a receipt.
5. Watch Out for New or Unstable Businesses
Just this year, the closing of a major bridal salon left hundreds of brides without wedding dresses they paid for months before their wedding. Just last week, a friend of mine had to rush a cake for her wedding because the baker she was working with for almost a year went out of business days after she made her final payment.
It’s okay to work with new businesses, but it’s smart to make sure you only invest in companies you know will be around on the day of your wedding. Make sure your contract includes what will happen in the event that business shuts down to ensure you receive any necessary refunds in a timely manner.
Always be on the lookout for anything that doesn’t feel right. If a business doesn’t seem financially stable in any way, it’s probably best to avoid them.
6. Be Wary of Vendors You Can’t Work With Directly
It’s hard to know what’s legitimate and what isn’t when you’re not able to work with a vendor face to face. Be wary of vendors without physical offices because you won’t know where to go or who to speak to if they ever stop answering your calls.
If you’re planning a destination wedding, be sure to take extra steps to verify any vendors you work with that operate out of a different country or state. The farther away a vendor is physically, the easier it is for them to market misleading information.
With so many vendors to choose from, it’s easy for illegitimate businesses and sketchy amateurs to slip into the mix. Take the necessary precautions and it will be much harder to fall victim to wedding scams that could ruin your big day.
Now that you know what scams to look out for when planning your wedding, keep in mind the 12 Hidden Wedding Costs You Need To Know About.
Do you know of any other wedding scams? Protect future brides and grooms by sharing them with us in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Twitter for daily images of jaw-dropping wedding dresses.